Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
(SKA leads the series 1-0)
After an early scare, SKA ran rampant over Minsk to throw down a marker in the opening game of this series. Most of the post-season pairings began with tight encounters in game one, but in Petersburg the home team delivered a drubbing thanks to a commanding performance from Nikita Gusev.
The Russian international returned to club hockey with a goal and five assists, leading SKA in scoring on the way to an emphatic victory. He started by setting up Danila Moiseyev for the opener after two minutes. Then, however, Dinamo deviated from the script. The visitor stung SKA with two goals midway through the opening stanza as Pavel Varfolomeyev and Mattias Tedenby turned the scoreline upside down. The Bison held their 2-1 advantage until the intermission, and could point to the stats to suggest that this was a tight, even game.
The next 20 minutes shattered that balance, however. Within a minute, Gusev’s feed from behind the net enabled Andrei Kuzmenko to tie the scores. Then came a home power play, and Gusev was the architect once again with a pass to set up Mikko Lehtonen’s point shot as SKA made it 3-2. A minute later, Gusev was clean through on Patrik Rybar’s net, only to be hauled down by Vladislav Yeryomenko; the forward picked himself up to score the penalty shot himself. Three goals in four minutes, and a 4-2 lead.
SKA could do it without Nikita as well. Joonas Kemppainen redirected another Lehtonen thunderbolt into the net for a second power play goal and chased Rybar from the Minsk net. The goalie’s previous competitive game saw him blank Sweden to earn Slovakia its first ever Olympic medal; this was a rather less happy evening for him. However, incoming netminder Alexei Kolosov could do little to stem the scoring. Stepan Falkovsky added a sixth then Gusev got back to work late in the frame, assisting on Anton Burdasov’s power play goal and Kuzmenko’s second of the night.
Dinamo’s problems were not helped by a flurry of penalties: four of the goals it allowed came on the power play, and another was from a penalty shot. The visitor’s discipline improved in the third period, with only one more power play chance for SKA following Ilya Usov’s confrontation with Igor Ozhiganov.
There was even time for a late consolation goal for the visitor, with Roman Gorbunov pulling one back in the 58th minute. But there was never any doubt about the outcome as SKA sounded a warning to the rest of the field in the West.